Autumn Statement 2014 – Personal Tax

September 21, 2014 | By

The personal allowance for 2015/16

For those born after 5 April 1948 the personal allowance will be increased from £10,000 to £10,600.

Comment 
The reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 will continue. The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2014/15 there is no allowance when adjusted net income exceeds £120,000. In 2015/16 the allowance ceases when adjusted net income exceeds £121,200. 

Tax bands and rates for 2015/16

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is being decreased from £31,865 to £31,785 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies will rise from £41,865 to £42,385 for those who are entitled to the full basic personal allowance.

The additional rate of tax of 45% is payable on taxable income above £150,000.

Dividend income is taxed at 10% where it falls within the basic rate band and 32.5% where liable at the higher rate of tax. Where income exceeds £150,000, dividends are taxed at 37.5%.

Starting rate of tax for savings income

From 6 April 2015, the maximum amount of an eligible individual’s savings income that can qualify for the starting rate of tax for savings will be increased to £5,000 from £2,880, and this starting rate will be reduced from 10% to nil. These rates are not available if taxable non-savings income (broadly earnings, pensions, trading profits and property income) exceeds the starting rate limit.

Comment 
This will increase the number of savers who are not required to pay tax on savings income, such as bank or building society interest. If a saver’s taxable non-savings income will be below the total of their personal allowance plus the £5,000 starting rate limit then they can register to receive their interest gross using a form R85.The increase will also provide a useful tax break for director/shareholders who extract their share of profits from a company by taking a low salary and the balance in dividends. This is because dividends are taxed after savings income and thus are not included in the individual’s ‘taxable non-savings income’.
Example 
 

Type of income Amount Tax rate Comment on tax rate
Salary £10,600 Nil (as covered by personal allowance)
Bank interest £3,000 Nil (as salary plus interest is less than £15,600)

Dividend income is then taxed at the appropriate dividend tax rates.

Transferable Tax Allowance for some

From 6 April 2015 married couples and civil partners may be eligible for a new Transferable Tax Allowance.

The Transferable Tax Allowance will enable spouses and civil partners to transfer a fixed amount of their personal allowance to their spouse. The option to transfer is not available to unmarried couples.

The option to transfer will be available to couples where neither pays tax at the higher or additional rate. If eligible, one partner will be able to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to the other partner which means £1,060 for the 2015/16 tax year.

Comment 
For those couples where one person does not use all of their personal allowance the benefit will be up to £212 (20% of £1,060). 

HMRC will, no doubt, be publicising the availability of the Transferable Tax Allowance in the next few months and details of how couples can opt to transfer allowances.

New Individual Savings Accounts (NISAs)

On 1 July 2014 ISAs were reformed into a simpler product, the NISA, and the overall annual subscription limit for these accounts was increased to £15,000 for 2014/15. From 6 April 2015 the overall NISA savings limit will be increased to £15,240.

The Chancellor has now announced an additional ISA allowance for spouses or civil partners when an ISA saver dies. From 6 April 2015, surviving spouses will be able to invest the inherited funds into their own ISA, on top of their usual allowance. This measure applies for deaths from 3 December 2014.

At Budget 2014, the Chancellor announced that peer-to-peer loans would be eligible for inclusion within NISAs. The government is consulting on the options for changes to the NISA rules to allow peer-to-peer loans to be held within them.

No start date has been announced.

Comment 
Peer-to-peer lending is a small but rapidly growing alternative source of finance for individuals and businesses. The inclusion of such loans in NISAs will increase choice for investors and encourage the growth of the peer-to-peer sector.

Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund (CTF)

The annual subscription limit for Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund accounts will increase from £4,000 to £4,080.

The government has previously decided that a transfer of savings from a CTF to a Junior ISA should be permitted at the request of the registered contact for the CTF. The government has confirmed the measure will have effect from 6 April 2015.

Bad debt relief on investments made on peer-to-peer lending

The government will introduce a new relief to allow individuals lending through peer-to-peer platforms to offset any losses from loans which go bad against other peer-to-peer income. It will be effective from 6 April 2016 and, through self assessment, will allow individuals to make a claim for relief on losses incurred from 6 April 2015.

Pensions – changes to access of pension funds

In Budget 2014, George Osborne announced ‘pensioners will have complete freedom to draw down as much or as little of their pension pot as they want, anytime they want’. Some of changes have already taken effect but the big changes will come into effect on 6 April 2015 for individuals who have money purchase pension funds.

The tax consequences of the changes are contained in the Taxation of Pensions Bill which is currently going through Parliament.

Under the current system, there is some flexibility in accessing a pension fund from the age of 55:

  • tax free lump sum of 25% of fund value
  • purchase of an annuity with the remaining fund, or
  • income drawdown.

For income drawdown there are limits, in most cases, on how much people can draw each year.

An annuity is taxable income in the year of receipt. Similarly any monies received from the income drawdown fund are taxable income in the year of receipt.

From 6 April 2015, the ability to take a tax free lump sum and a lifetime annuity remain but some of the current restrictions on a lifetime annuity will be removed to allow more choice on the type of annuity taken out.

The rules involving drawdown will change. There will be total freedom to access a pension fund from the age of 55. It is proposed that access to the fund will be achieved in one of two ways:

  • allocation of a pension fund (or part of a pension fund) into a ‘flexi-access drawdown account’ from which any amount can be taken over whatever period the person decides
  • taking a single or series of lump sums from a pension fund (known as an ‘uncrystallised funds pension lump sum’).

When an allocation of funds into a flexi-access account is made the member typically will take the opportunity of taking a tax free lump sum from the fund (as under current rules).

The person will then decide how much or how little to take from the flexi-access account. Any amounts that are taken will count as taxable income in the year of receipt.

Access to some or all of a pension fund without first allocating to a flexi-access account can be achieved by taking an uncrystallised funds pension lump sum.

The tax effect will be:

  • 25% is tax free
  • the remainder is taxable as income.
Comment 
The fundamental tax planning point arising from the changes is self-evident. A person should decide when to access funds depending upon their other income in each tax year. 

Pensions – changes to tax relief for pension contributions

The government is alive to the possibility of people taking advantage of the new flexibilities by ‘recycling’ their earned income into pensions and then immediately taking out amounts from their pension funds. Without further controls being put into place an individual would obtain tax relief on the pension contributions but only be taxed on 75% of the funds immediately withdrawn.

Currently an ‘annual allowance’ sets the maximum amount of tax efficient contributions. The annual allowance is £40,000 (but there may be more allowance available if the maximum allowance has not been utilised in the previous years).

Under the proposed rules from 6 April 2015, the annual allowance for contributions to money purchase schemes will be reduced to £10,000 in certain scenarios. There will be no carry forward of any of the £10,000 to a later year if it is not used in the year.

The main scenarios in which the reduced annual allowance is triggered is if:

  • any income is taken from a flexi-access drawdown account, or
  • an uncrystallised funds pension lump sum is received.

However just taking a tax-free lump sum when funds are transferred into a flexi-access account will not trigger the £10,000 rule.

Taxation of resident non-domiciles

The Chancellor has announced an increase in the annual charge paid by non-domiciled individuals resident in the UK who wish to retain access to the remittance basis of taxation.

The charge paid by people who have been UK resident for seven out of the last nine years will remain at £30,000. The charge paid by people who have been UK resident for 12 out of the last 14 years will increase from £50,000 to £60,000. A new charge of £90,000 will be introduced for people who have been UK resident for 17 of the last 20 years. The government will also consult on making the election apply for a minimum of three years.